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10-year-old killed by accidental contact with deadly street drug

10-year-old killed by accidental contact with deadly street drug
Posted at 1:47 PM, Jul 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-18 10:00:35-04

(RNN) - A 10-year-old boy in Florida died from an apparent overdose of the powerful painkiller fentanyl.

Alton Banks had the synthetic opioid in his body when he collapsed at home on June 23, according to a toxicology report released last Monday.

Fentanyl, which is 50 to 100 times more powerful than heroin, is one of the many new street drugs that are fueling the opioid crisis that has killed thousands in Florida and tens of thousands more nationwide.

Fentanyl and its even more potent analogues are so strong that inhaling or having a speck of it touch your skin can kill.

Investigators told the Miami Herald that is what they believe happened to Alton. Authorities said there is no evidence he contacted the drug at home.

The boy began vomiting after coming home from an outing at a neighborhood pool, the Herald reported. That evening, he fell unconscious. Paramedics took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Investigators think he came in contact with it on the streets of Overtown, a neighborhood that is the epicenter of heroin and fentanyl sales in Miami.

Thirty-one people have died with heroin fentanyl or both in their systems since 2015, according to a December 2016 story by the Herald.

Miami Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said authorities don’t know whether he came in contact with the drug at the pool or while he was walking home.

“We’re anxiously hoping that someone that someone comes forward to help us solve this horrific death,” she said.

Alton’s mom, Shantell Banks, said her son was a “fun kid” who loved the Carolina Panthers and star quarterback Cam Newton. He wanted to be an engineer when he grew up.

The odds are against finding the person responsible for Alton’s death.

A new law in Florida allows prosecutors to charge dealers with murder if they provide a fatal dose of fentanyl or drugs mixed with fentanyl. But it won’t go into effect until Oct. 1, the Herald reported.

Fentanyl is also available legally in a patch prescribed by doctors.

But the street version that killed Alton and so many others is likely manufactured in illegal labs in China. The drugs are most often delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, which lacks the oversight to check where packages are mailed from, who they are mailed to and other possibly identifiers that could red-flag shipments.

Private delivery services like FedEx and UPS are required to gather the data by a 2002 law that was passed in response to the 9/11 attacks. The Post Office and the Department of Homeland Security were tasked with developing a plan to implement a similar system, but so far, that has not been done.

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